Mentoring Talent: Why I Began This Blog

Mentoring talent? Why would I write a blog about that?

The idea grew until it warmed me (as I hope it will you):

Back when I gave free talks to the public about career planning, members of the audience would tell me about the talent in their kids or grand-kids. I heard concern under their pride. In retrospect, I was gathering tinder—small, seemingly lightweight stuff for starting a fire. I didn’t put a match to the tinder until years later, when, in the process of doing library research for my career book, I read Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class.

Mentoring talent is compared to building a bonfire.

Florida’s ideas burned inside me with a small but steady flame, something like a pilot light. Inspired, I mulled over his vision of creativity as an economic force for good. How could I, as a creativity expert and writer, extend his message? Eventually, my answer came: I might know next to nothing about exploiting technology or fostering tolerance, but . . .

I could share volumes about mentoring talent.

As a counselor, my task was to help people flourish via a relationship. Moreover, I was trained as a counseling psychologist to focus on client strengths. The poster child for what not to do with my own career, I had quite naturally developed an avid interest in counseling psychology’s vocational track. Knowledge of career counseling remains stacked within me, like a woodpile.

I had also learned about developing talent from thirty-two years of experience across the entire spectrum of educational settings, from Kindergarten to community college to university. In New Orleans, Seattle, and Pittsburgh, I taught hundreds of students and counseled thousands of clients. At the end of my career, as a school psychologist in Ft Collins, I evaluated gifted as well as disabled learners and served students both directly and indirectly, by consulting with their teachers and parents.

In short, I’ve been in the trenches, where it was easy to observe the diverse dismaying disconnects between students and learning, between one school and another, and between education and employment in the United States.

Many aspects of our educational system disturb me. Now that I’m retired, I’m in a position to communicate what I believe to be a simpler but superior strategy. I’ve collected a banker’s box of ideas, enough fuel to keep a talent mentoring fire burning for years.

In Richard Florida’s sequel, The Flight of the Creative Class, he wrote:

“Today, for perhaps the first time in human history, we have the opportunity to align economic and human development. Indeed, our future economic prosperity turns on making the most of each and every human being’s talents and energies.”

Now that’s a goal I can get behind. I invite you to join me in building an online community of parents, coaches, and educators. I’ll share what I know and hope to learn what’s worked for you in guiding your protege. Let’s build a blazing bonfire, mentoring talent in the generations that follow, so they can derive career direction and job security, along with greater wealth and contentment, from developing their signature strengths.

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